Doctor: Misinformation and Racism Have Frozen Recovery Effort at General Hospital in Port-au-Prince
“There are no security issues,” says Dr. Evan Lyon of Partners in Health, reporting from the General Hospital in Port-Au-Prince in Haiti, where 1,000 people are in need of operations. Lyon said the reports of violence in the city have been overblown by the media and have affected the delivery of aid and medical services.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Amy Goodman is in Haiti, and we'll be joining
her in a few minutes. But first, we turn to a voice from one hospital
in Port-au-Prince that was badly destroyed by last week's earthquake.
The General Hospital is three blocks from the crumbling National
Former President Bill Clinton visited the hospital Monday, as
hundreds of people with broken limbs and multiple fractures were
waiting for medical supplies to arrive.
Democracy Now! reached Dr. Evan Lyon at the General Hospital Monday evening. He is a doctor with Partners in Health.
DR. EVAN LYON: We've been working around the clock
since our team from Partners in Health came to meet up with our Haitian
colleagues, who are still here and still leading and still helping us
recover to try to get this hospital back up and running. The
infrastructure is really, you know, completely destroyed. There is a
nursing school on this campus that collapsed completely, killing
really, as far as we know now, the entire class of second-year nursing
students. The medical school right behind me is-will not ever be usable
But the main problem is that this General Hospital, the main
general public hospital for the city of Port-au-Prince, is still barely
operational. We have a thousand patients scattered throughout the
campus, mostly sleeping under the stars or sleeping in tents, a
thousand patients who have been triaged, assessed. They're getting
primary care. They're getting good medical care from Haitian staff and
from volunteer international relief staff. But we are just scratching
the surface of the operative needs of the orthopedic and other
operative needs. Again, 1,000 people in need of operations, and we're
just barely starting to scratch the surface.
Two days ago, we began operating. We had four operating rooms up
as quick as possible and have been using them ever since. We don't have
full proper anesthesia. We're missing many of the materials we need.
But that has been working. As of last night, we have some electricity
on the campus, and we'll be able to start operating twenty-four hours a
day through this night and on through tomorrow.
I think, you know, the singing and the [inaudible], I know, is
clear to many, certainly anyone who has followed Haiti and cared about
this special country. One thing that I think is really important for
people to understand is that misinformation and rumors and, I think at
the bottom of the issue, racism has slowed the recovery efforts of this
hospital. Security issues over the last forty-eight hours have been
our-quote "security issues" over the last forty-eight hours have been
our leading concern. And there are no security issues. I've been with
my Haitian colleagues. I'm staying at a friend's house in
Port-au-Prince. We're working for the Ministry of Public Health for the
direction of this hospital as volunteers. But I'm living and moving
with friends. We've been circulating throughout the city until 2:00 and
3:00 in the morning every night, evacuating patients, moving materials.
There's no UN guards. There's no US military presence. There's no
Haitian police presence. And there's also no violence. There is no
JUAN GONZALEZ: That was Dr. Evan Lyon of Partners in Health talking about the situation at the General Hospital in Haiti.